The Hopeful Herbalist

hope·ful /hōpfəl

Adjective: Feeling or inspiring optimism about a future event.

Noun: A person likely or hoping to succeed.



The first time I surveyed my prospective garden, on a bright September day, my heart was full of hope – a 1/2 acre blank canvas. On closer inspection I discovered that many herbs already occupied the space. My tiny urban garden burgeoned with pots of herbs ready for a new home. Already I was planning my new planting, dreaming of orchards, soft fruit, ducks, chickens and bees. The next few months became a time of propagating, potting on, transplanting, but regretting having to leave so much behind.

In the light of a cold February morning viewing the carnage wrecked by the seller as he dispatched trees and shrubs I looked more closely at the huge clumps of day lilies and hostas almost smothered by the suckers from the snowberry hedges and felt less hopeful.

The previous owner had been an artist hence the loo taking pride of place, a nod to Duchamp possibly? She had loved the garden, that much I could see but however was I going to regain control of this unsightly tangle of plants and wild weeds? Hard work alone would bring it back.

One year on, with the rebuild almost complete, Bob Flowerdew inspired me quite literally to “grasp the nettle”. The tangle of weeds that I suspected might hide something awful finally gave up its secret – it was indeed the midden as I had suspected and strove to avoid for over a year. Now it’s a beautiful bed of rich, loamy soil. At the moment the plot is full of beans and potatoes with a plethora of herbs that stubbornly refused to grow in seed trays but flourished when scattered over the patch!